KONCAST Episode 9: Timothy Gager

http://koncast.libsyn.com/episode-9-timothy-gager

In this episode, I talk to writer and poet Timothy Gager. He is the author of thirteen books of poetry and fiction, including his latest book of poetry, Chief Jay Strongbow is Real. He’s also the host of the Dire Literary Series in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Links from this episode:

Timothy Gager: http://www.timothygager.com

The Dire Reader Series: http://www.direreader.com

Chief Jay Strongbow is Real: http://amzn.to/2zuBVaN

http://lithub.com/the-literary-class-system-is-impoverishing-literature/

The RCA eBook reader: https://wiki.mobileread.com/wiki/REB_1100
Click here to for more details on this new episode of The Koncast

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The Same Picture of Jon Konrath Every Day – The Book

8234262-2e6aa8cc0e194e7cb5540813cdd813e0This is stupid. But I have made a book for The Same Picture of Jon Konrath Every Day. It is an 88-page book of pretty much every meme I’ve made over the last year or two associated with this page.

I thought about writing a huge explanation about how this picture was taken, how the meme page started (it wasn’t me), and other stupid side notes about the phenomenon, like how we started one-upping each other with garbage #KultofKonrath merchandise. But I am lazy, and if you explain it too much, it ruins it. So figure it out yourself. Or ask me in person. Or drink a bunch of cough medicine and make up your own story.

The book is available on Blurb and is prohibitively expensive because it is color printed. It’s also slow to produce and costs too much to ship. Blame Blurb. Don’t buy this, but if you’re a completist, knock yourself out. I would print a bunch and give them away, but my cost is the same as yours.

You can go to the book site and preview every page for free, so there’s that.

The book is on Blurb here: http://www.blurb.com/b/7632244-the-same-picture-of-jon-konrath-every-day-the-book

Also for any of my books that actually have writing and that you should be buying and giving to your family for the holiday, go to My Books and Stories.

Happy Firestorm! (Or whatever holiday you celebrate.)

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Writers vs. Authors vs. Scammers

I keep thinking about the argument of writer versus author, and then saw this interesting news item about a scammer who made millions publishing junk ebooks on Amazon:

http://www.zdnet.com/article/exclusive-inside-a-million-dollar-amazon-kindle-catfishing-scam/

The summary is that a guy set up a small empire publishing hack e-books about homesteading, weight loss, vitamins, healthy lotions, and whatever Whole Foods-oriented how-to garbage would attract clicks. The scam used multiple fake authors and an army of fake customer accounts. He would then game the system with a network of fake reviews, and set the books for free and mass-download them to up the ratings. He carefully hid his tracks through the Tor network, and when a book got reported and banned, he would re-title it, and have another fake author release it with a new cover.

I think most writers have different reactions to this, but it’s a mix of two base thoughts: either “I waste all my time writing and publishing real books and some asshole publishing fake books on vegan child care is making tons of money gaming the system, this is bullshit” and “why am I not gaming the system, maybe not to this level of scamminess, but it sure would be nice to get some traffic.”

I think the best reaction to have, for me, and one that I don’t have, is something like “all of this is meaningless, and who cares how these scammers are destroying the industry, because I write to write, not to make a buck or get fame.” But it’s hard to think this way in a world where you have to pay to keep a roof over your head, and I think a lot of writers are somewhere on the spectrum of this being important, and make some ethical sacrifice towards this.

I’ve struggled with the “writer versus author” argument, and I feel like I need to invent a new set of terms, because these don’t seem quite right. But I think there’s a difference between people who write whatever they write because it is their passion or their lot in life, versus people who write to sell. That’s not to say genre writers who research what to write based on market trends can’t be passionate about their work, and people writing literary fiction can sell their work or modify it to meet market demands to some extent. It’s probably a spectrum, and writers make ethical or business decisions that push them in one direction or another on this range.

What makes me think about this is that the scammer in the article has made many decisions that are to the full-blown extreme of writing to sell. And when I read self-publishing help sites, all of these tactics about gaming the system are discussed to some extent. These sites talk about the importance of covers, how to title your work to get maximum reach, the use of pseudonyms, how to pick categories and add keywords and get reviews and whatever else. They are not as extreme as what this scammer did, but they are all things that aren’t related to writing, or the art of writing.

The thing that gets me is that this scammer chose books, but not because they enjoyed writing or making a connection with the reader at all. I’m not even sure if he actually wrote the books; he could have paid someone on Fiverr to do it. And it could have been anything other than books. The same tactics could have been used to sell nutritional supplements or baseball caps drop-shipped from China. And I sometimes feel that way with the other writers (authors, whatever) with which I share an Amazon bookstore. My books aren’t for mass-consumption, and sure, they don’t sell like a good vampire erotica series sells. But it makes me wonder if these other writers are more interested in marketing and selling than they are about writing. When the gold rush will end, will they will all move to selling insurance or lawn furniture or prepackaged meals online, or will they be writing book that make no money?

I wrote my novels before there was a kindle, before there was a self-publishing world. If Amazon disappeared tomorrow, I would keep writing, even if it meant going to Kinko’s and paying ten cents a page to give them to friends. It’s what I did back in the nineties, and it’s what I’d do again, if it came to that. Everything else shouldn’t matter. But it still creeps in my head, especially with a new book out, ready to face the world. This is something I struggle with, and I wish I didn’t.

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My new book Vol. 13 is out

I have a new book out!

TL;DR: kindle and paperback.

This book is called Vol. 13 because it is my thirteenth book, and I’m obsessed with Black Sabbath. It is 20 stories, each longer than flash fiction – the whole book is just shy of 200 pages in print.

If you read my books Thunderbird or Sleep Has No Master, it’s similar in format and content. Structurally, I think the stories are more “story-like” and slightly longer – like Thunderbird was 26 stories and 186 pages, while this was 20 stories and 196 pages. Each story is titled, which a few reviews mentioned they liked my titles even more than my stories in those books, so that tradition continues. If you want to see all of the titles, go check out the book page.

The content of the book is Konrathian. I can’t describe what I write, and that’s sort of the point. If you’ve read my stuff, you know what it is. I’ve created this sandbox of near-future post-apocalyptic ruin that’s probably getting a little too close for comfort these days, and then I set my cast of characters loose in it to wander the wasteland of pop-culture and destruction. It’s fiction, but I’m guessing that within six months, a guy with a Killdozer is going to go viral and end up with a holding deal with HBO to develop a talk show with tits, and everyone will think I’m Nostradamus. It’s happened before.

Anyway, the book is out. As always, I’m looking for reviewers or places to guest-blog or interviews, or any other help I can get to get this thing out there.

Here’s the linkage again:

  • Kindle – the book is part of Kindle Unlimited, so subscribers can read it for free.
  • Paperback – it’s in Kindle Match, so if you buy the paperback, you get the kindle version for free
  • Goodreads – go mark it as “to read” and tell all your creepy friends.

OK, that’s done. Time to start the next one.

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My new book, The Memory Hunter, is now out!

I’m happy to announce that my new book, The Memory Hunter, is now available!

This book is a bit of a departure for me.  I wanted to try writing a plotted novel with a conventional structure. The book is a retro cyberpunk book.  I know cyberpunk is supposed to be dead, but I had some fun getting around this. I wrote a book that appears to be penned in about 1981, with all of the usual futuristic predictions of that era’s great science fiction, which of course never happened.  So it’s chock full of flying cars, robots, intelligent computers, memory implants, and huge Japanese corporations that rule a world that has rebuilt after a nuclear war with the still-existing Soviet Union.  It’s a dark comedy, full of my usual brand of absurdism, but it’s also a solid noir thriller.

I’ve got a page with a description and all of the details here. Go grab your copy here:

A preview is available on the Kindle and on Smashwords.  I also sent out a slightly longer preview of the first chapters to my mailing list.  Didn’t get it?  Maybe you should subscribe.

Thanks to everyone who helped me with this, especially John Sheppard and Joseph Hirsch, who beta-read and edited for me.  I hope you enjoy this!  And if it’s not your cup of tea, don’t worry.  I’m already 30,000 words into another absurd and bizarre book that gets back to my usual brand of writing.

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Why I love analog

Real film. Not an instagram filter.

After shooting some 25,000 digital photos in the last decade and a half, I finally did something I never thought I would: I started shooting film again.

In a fit of boredom, I bought a Lomography Diana F+ camera. It’s a 40-buck plastic toy camera that shoots 120 roll film, with manual everything and a plastic lens that takes hipster-esque Instagram-y pictures. I took it out and ran three rolls through it, just to see what it would be like. It was tough, clunky, and awkward, but I loved it.

I haven’t shot film since 2000.  I got my first digital camera, a 1-MP Olympus point/shoot, at J&R Electronics in New York at the very end of that year.  I remember this well, because I had to take a bunch of use-it-or-lose-it vacation and essentially split work very early in the month of December for the rest of the year, and I got really sick on the first day off. I spent the whole vacation in a NyQuil daze, sleeping for 30 hours, waking up in the middle of the night to order hot and sour soup by the gallon from the crap Chinese place down the street, then going back to bed.  I eventually got ambulatory enough on the day after Christmas to brave a snowstorm that dumped a few feet of fluffy white snow over the island. I took the N train down to the City Hall stop to go into the electronics superstore that stood near the foot of the mighty twin towers of the World Trade Center.  I bought the camera, stumbled home, and took a bunch of shots of my kitchen and bathroom, amazed at how they instantly showed up in the tiny LCD screen.

Digital changed my life.  I didn’t have to go to labs, didn’t have to wait to see if a shot worked, and didn’t have the nagging self-censorship that a flunkie working the film counter at Osco’s would be looking at my prints. I took a ton of pictures with that little junk camera, and then moved on to a series of better point/shoots through the 00s before graduating to a DSLR in 2010.  I love shooting with the big Canon, but I still take more pictures with my iPhone. Both are fast, easy, and cheap.

But, there’s a disconnect. I average a few hundred shots a month, although it’s in fits and spurts; I will take out the DSLR for vacation or a baseball game and run a few thousand shots, but then it goes back to the shelf; the iPhone grabs a funny picture or something interesting maybe a few times a week, mostly snapshots of the cats or stupid products in stores. Sometimes these go to flickr, endless galleries of vacation shots that nobody looks at. Hell, I don’t look at them half the time.  I enjoy going back to remember something from ten years ago, but my least favorite part about vacation is trimming a thousand pictures down to a hundred and trying to caption them.  I wish there was a program that would do it automatically, as I’ve said before, but that’s a ways off.

I think that disconnect between us and what we capture, the intermediary of the digital screen and the promise of quick/easy/cheap causes us to produce things we don’t care about.  I don’t give a shit about most of those 25,000 shots I have in Aperture. Maybe 100 are really good works of art, and maybe 1000 of them are things I want to remember. And everyone is that way. Everyone with a digital camera has a million shots and nowhere to put them.  And nobody likes looking at them, except people you don’t want prying into them, like stalkers and annoying relatives. Nobody creates with a camera anymore; we capture, hoping it will help us remember what we quickly forget in our fast-paced world, but we never go back to look at it, and none of it matters. It’s something we feel we should do, like when people take a thousand pictures an hour when they have kids, but nobody’s going to cherish those pictures. They’re probably going to be gone in a dozen years, from a dead hard drive or some new change to formats that will make them all obsolete.

So the first reaction from anyone I told about this new camera is “why the hell are you shooting film?  Don’t you have an iPhone?”  And the answer is that the lack of immediacy, the fact that I need to think because each shot is costing me a buck and I won’t see it for two weeks, makes me more cognizant of what I’m doing. It gives me more of a relationship with what I’m creating. I mean, my iPhone is still taking better pictures, but there’s something about the process of going to the photo shop and talking to the clerk and being handed that envelope of prints and negatives, and then the surprise of opening it and going through to see what worked and what didn’t. I enjoy the process, even if it takes longer.

It reminds me of the days of going to a real record store, talking to the people there about what’s new and what’s cool, flipping through the stacks, looking at the artwork, smelling the vinyl in the air and seeing the other people there.  The whole ritual of going there is something I painfully miss, and buying albums made me more aware of them.  It’s damn convenient to go to iTunes, listen to a few samples, and click the buy button to instantly have it on your computer. But I buy stuff and don’t even listen to it, forget about it, and have to force myself to use playlists and rate things to find them and get into them.  I’m not aware of the music I have anymore.

It’s also the same with books.  Everyone is into the Kindle, and I sell more ebooks than paper these days.  But I download Kindle books that go free, or things I see online, and I never, ever read them.  I have hundreds of Kindle books I will never in a million years open. I read 100% of everything on paper, and I love collecting books. I cherish the print copies of things I really dig, and nothing beats the hypnotic experience of holding a dead tree in your hands and flipping through the pages.  Yes, it’s easier to search through a tech manual or textbook and find what you need on a Kindle or in a PDF. But the relationship between the reader and the work is much more solid on paper.  Will the Kindle disrupt publishing?  Sure.  The CD disrupted the production of vinyl. But people who love music are back to buying it.  Books are the same thing.

Anyway, the first film came out okay.  It’s going to take some practice to get into it, and I probably need a cheaper 35mm to do some learning. Here are the first shots. It’s a fun distraction, so I’m going to keep at it. I’m still shooting as much or even more digital, but there’s just something about analog I can’t shake.

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Why I’m not doing KDP Select free giveaways for Kindle anymore

OK, so I have a new book out.  And one of the things I’ve done for the last few books is have a free giveaway of the book on the Kindle. I’m not doing that for this book, and I won’t be doing it in the future for other books.  Let me back up and explain why authors do these giveaways, and then explain why I’m not doing it anymore.

First, an explanation of KDP Select.  KDP is Kindle Direct Publishing, the service you use to self-publish books to the Kindle.  Select is a program where you can sign up your books, and get three benefits.  One is that if your book costs $2.99 or more, your revenue rate changes to 70%.  The other is that Amazon Prime members can borrow your book for free, and you get a small kickback every time that happens.  (So borrow my books!)  And third is that for five days every month, you can have a free giveaway, where the cost of your book becomes $0.00, and people can purchase (and keep) the book for nothing.

The downside of KDP Select is that you have to promise that your book is not available electronically anywhere else, and that includes posting it for free on a web site.  It’s Amazon’s golden handcuffs to limit your product to their ecosystem, and keep you from publishing it on Kobo or Apple or Nook or Sony or anywhere else.  It essentially creates a bunch of Amazon-exclusive content.  It’s just like how if you loved all of those Mario games, you were screwed if you bought a PlayStation instead of a Nintendo.  It locks people into their platform.  I’m not 100% fine with that, but I am into the idea of the 70% royalty.  So my plan is to have books available through KDP Select initially, and then later move them out of the program and make the books available on other devices.  The Prime borrowing thing would be great if more people borrowed my books, but none of you do, so I don’t care about that.  (Honestly, since you can only borrow a book a month with a Prime membership, I understand why people save their borrow for an overpriced mainstream book.)

One of the reasons to make a book free is to build your brand.  It’s like when Pepsi comes out with a new drink and sends you a coupon in the mail for a free two-liter.  You get it from the store, try it, become addicted, and buy more of their product.  With books, you probably aren’t buying repeat copies of the same book (although please don’t let me stop you, at least with my books) but if you read one book and like it, you’ll either buy other books by the author or press, or tell your friends to buy it.  Another related reason is the hope that people will review your book, either on Amazon or at other sites like Goodreads. (Goodreads is now owned by Amazon, but for the time being, the reviews are separate entities.)

The other, less obvious reason why authors do Select giveaways is to game numbers.  Writers, especially genre writers, rely heavily on Amazon’s search and recommendation system to get sales.  The game is to get your book more heavily weighted so that when someone types “murder mystery” into a search box, or looks at the books related to whatever Davinci Shades of Hunger Games title that’s blowing up right now, their book floats to the top.   If you read any “you can make a million dollars self-publishing” web sites, there’s a lot of advice given that involves somehow manipulating the system to ensure your book gets seen by more eyes.  It’s why there’s an AAAA locksmith in every city, and it’s why people do giveaways.  All of those $0.00 sales count as sales in the system (or did – read on…) and sales ranking is one of the variables in the formula that determines how search results are shown in Amazon.  Giving away a thousand books over a weekend can cause a huge surge of sales right after that, until the algorithm catches up with you and your sales rank drops back down again.  (There’s also a chance that if your book is advertised as free over a weekend, and someone blindly clicks the link on Monday morning and downloads it after the sale, they’ll accidentally drop three bucks on it.  You’ll be told you’re being charged, but nobody reads that shit.)

One of the big reasons I don’t like giveaways is that it’s not fair to the people who pay for my book.  I have a small handful of loyalists who will buy my book the day or week it comes out, and gladly pay full price for it.  I love these people, and I don’t even care about the money part – if we bump into each other, I’ll gladly buy you drinks until we’re even.  I appreciate when people buy my stuff, not because it’s making me rich (it isn’t) but because it shows that they want to read my writing.  And I always feel bad when I say, a week later, that the book is now free for five days.  While a small percentage of people downloading a free book are people who want to read my writing, or maybe are people who have heard of me but are on the fence about trying out my work, the majority of the people who download free books are digital hoarders that download every free book they can find simply because they are free, and almost never read the book, let alone buy more or tell their friends or write a review.  I hate the idea of screwing my loyal fans in order to give away a thousand books to 999 people who don’t give a shit and maybe one that might actually read the book.

As far as brand building, there are plenty of my stories available online for free.  If you’re not familiar with my writing, you can always go to that page and click on most of the stories there and read them.  You can also get previews on Amazon and start reading a book, and if you like it, you can buy it.  And like I mentioned, Prime members can borrow my book.  My work is out there for you to check out before you buy it – I don’t think that’s an issue.

Also, the KDP Select salad days are over.  Amazon tweaked their algorithm so that giveaway sales are not the same as purchase sales.  They also split up their paid and free best-of lists.  That means that giveaways have much less impact than they used to.  Also, there are way more authors self-publishing, so there are far more giveaways going on at any given time.  And more and more of the free places you can advertise a giveaway are either not listing as many giveaways, because there are so many happening, or have switched to a paid advertising model to reap the benefits, and make it more cost-prohibitive to get the word out.

There’s this larger argument about why the hell people spend time building platforms and marketing brands and using all of the same tactics as aluminum siding and timeshare salespeople to sell their books.  And we could go down a huge rabbit hole about the value of work versus the value of items offered for free that would eventually end up in some convoluted meta-argument about capitalism.  The more time I spend writing about it — and I’ve probably written five drafts of this and deleted them all because it always goes too Lars Ulrich in the end — is the more time I don’t write about what really matters to me, which is aliens shitting on escalators and satanists killing babies and nailing their corpses to a huge Wheel of Fortune wheel for a new game show called Fetus of Misfortune.  I won’t get into any more if it, because it’s all inconsequential bullshit. I hope you read my stuff, and I wish there was a better way to get the word out on my stuff, but I’ll look into it later.

I hope this doesn’t piss off anyone who wanted the book for free.  I’m always open to trades and looking for reviewers, so if you want a copy of the book and don’t have the three bucks, you can always drop a line and make an offer.  But I’m hoping you do check it out, and understand why I came to this decision.

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I do not give a god damn about the book industry

I often get dragged into discussions about the book industry, mostly because people are too stupid to know the difference between Jon and Joe and blindly throw a @jkonrath into a tweet about how publishing is dying or some dumb company is fleecing even dumber authors who did the equivalent of paying $10,000 cash for head shots.

(Side note: It’s somewhat ironic that the term for this kind of shit is “joe job” given the name of the other person involved here.)

This is annoying on many levels, mostly because it distracts me from what I’m really trying to do.  But more than that, all of this talking head parroting sometimes makes me wonder why I don’t keep up with what’s going on in the publishing world.  I don’t read trades or spend time on publishing news sites, throwing down my opinion on whatever catastrophe is currently making the rounds.  I don’t take sides on publishers versus “indies” or who signed with who or who decided to leave their publisher and self-pub or what the guy who wrote Wool ate for lunch or any of that.  I don’t care.

I do not give a fuck about the book industry.  I mean, I like to read books, and I publish the final output of my work so you can see if you want to read it.  But I am a writer.  I’m not a shameless self-promoter, and I’m not an industry insider.  And I don’t want to be.  I don’t write books for maximum profits.  I write books because they’re trapped in my soul and need to be excised like the pus from a wound.  I know it sounds pretentious to pull the “I’m an artist” card, but I’m definitely not a businessman, and I do not care about any of it.

I recently read a book called Post-Digital Print, which was one of the most inspiring books I’ve read in a long time.  It outlines every “publishing is dying” screed that has happened since 1894, and I guarantee you that about a dozen of them are things you’ve never heard about.  Almost every one was invented by a company that wanted you to buy their shit instead.  Did you know that people thought radio would replace printed books?  At the turn of the century (or a couple of decades later, I guess) part of the population thought books were turning everyone blind.  It probably had some causal relationship to the rise in optometry technology at the time, and everyone was getting glasses, whereas before that only rich people got monocles, and everyone else squinted.  Anyway, some industry geniuses said that radio would replace “the burden of reading” and save everyone’s eyesight.  And we know how that turned out.

I’m not saying print isn’t suffering.  But it’s not going away, either.  There’s going to be a whole generation of artisanal printing, letterpress chapbooks and boxed sets of limited edition prints with high-end art book covers and over-designed interiors in esoteric fonts that makes Helvetica look like Comic Sans.  Look at what happened with vinyl records.  The 8-track was supposed to kill them, then the cassette, then the CD.  There are now vinyl-only stores, limited-edition LPs with extra tracks and slick printed gatefold sleeves encasing art books and 45-remastered dual discs on 200-gram virgin vinyl.  Yes, the airport reader is going to gobble down murder mysteries on their kindle, but book collectors aren’t going to be forced to shred everything and go to e-format.

What I am saying is that these talking head industry-mongers are not authors – they are inflating their own egos for their own industry, which is fear-mongering and hand-wringing. It doesn’t help your writing.  They’re the people selling the ten dollar loaves of bread to the people who showed up late to the gold rush.  It’s all bullshit.  It’s all inconsequential.

Speaking of, gotta get writing – trying to finish the next book.  I’ll end with a quote from my buddy George Carlin that pretty much sums it all up.

I figured out years ago that the human species is totally fucked and has been for a long time. I also know that the sick, media-consumer culture in America continues to make this so-called problem worse. But the trick, folks, is not to give a fuck. Like me. I really don’t care. I stopped worrying about all this temporal bullshit a long time ago. It’s meaningless.

-George Carlin

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Mandelbrot and Genre Writing

I’ve been in the post-book-release period of my writing cycle where I don’t know what I’m doing next, and I don’t know what I should be reading, so I start poring over non-fiction, usually some junk science book.  Specifically, it’s that James Gleick book Chaos, which is about chaos theory and the butterfly effect.  I mostly read stuff like this to pour random facts into my head with hopes that I’ll go off on a tangent in some wikipedia-reading frenzy and end up finding the pieces of my next short story.

Part of the book talks about Benoit Mandelbrot, who once said this:

Science would be ruined if (like sports) it were to put competition above everything else, and if it were to clarify the rules of competition by withdrawing entirely into narrowly defined specialties. The rare scholars who are nomads-by-choice are essential to the intellectual welfare of the settled disciplines.

That got me thinking about genres, and writing.  I’ve been knocking against this invisible wall with regard to genres, because I don’t really fit into any one category.  And every self-publishing make-money-fast scheme online talks about how you need to market yourself by finding your niche and building your platform to sell to that slice of the reading public.  Every person out their schlepping their own advice on publishing will tell you about the importance of hitting up the forums relevant to your category.

When I’m depressed about not having stellar book numbers, this feeds into a horrible cycle of negativity.  I don’t sell books because I don’t market.  I don’t market because I can’t find the people to market to.  I can’t find the people to market to, because I don’t know how to categorize my work.  And I don’t know how to categorize my work because I don’t really like any of the categories.

That’s a big part of the problem.  I don’t read a lot of straight genre fiction, because it bores me.  While I like picking at the edges of the science fiction genre, I find the die-hard stuff to be so goddamn serious.  I can’t stand fantasy.  And romance and thriller aren’t even on my radar.  The books I like are combinations of different things, or aren’t representations of the category as a whole.  Vonnegut wasn’t a science fiction writer per se; he sometimes fell into that category, but his stories had a humor you aren’t going to find in the typical outer space robot book.  Burroughs had the same distinction.  Was Hunter S. Thompson a journalist or a humorist or an essayist or what?  And Mark Leyner wasn’t literary fiction, but he wasn’t general fiction, either.

The big issue is that when you define success as straight-up numbers, nothing but copies sold and dollars taken in, you’re competing more than you’re creating.  You’re not going to push boundaries or do what you truly want; you’re going to stick to that same narrowly-defined plot structure that everyone uses to maximize the number of readers you can satisfy.  You’re going to think of how to market a book and then write it, instead of creating what you truly need to create as an artist.  It’s like the difference between a painter like Jackson Pollock laying his soul and his inner demons onto the canvas, versus someone being handed an RFP by a hotel chain for a thousand identical paintings that meet certain requirements.  When you write for the market, you may sell, but you probably won’t innovate.

I don’t want to dole out yet another hero’s journey monomyth novel because I can plug it by saying “it’s like <current hit> but with <other thing people like>”.  I feel like I need to continue down the path I’ve followed with the last few books, but I also feel like it’s okay if I suddenly want to write some non-fiction, or a book of essays, or whatever else.  I’d hate to wake up someday and be told I can only write dystopian literary occult police procedural fantasy fiction, or that I couldn’t do what I want because it won’t sell.  Life’s too short to back yourself in a corner like that.

 

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